After several years of efforts, Wyoming has taken action to protect children by limiting child marriage in the state. House Bill 7 does not ban child marriage but is an important first step toward ending child marriage in the state. Until this year, Wyoming had no minimum age under which minors could not be married and allowed older minors to marry with nothing more than parental permission.
The new law sets the state’s minimum marriage age at 16 and requires most minors to go before a judge to receive approval first. The law also prevents children living in other states from being brought into Wyoming for exploitation through marriage since it requires a judge to approve the union in the county where the minor resides.
“With this legislation, there are now just 7 states that still set no age floor for marriage, a far cry from when this movement started in 2016. At that time, half of all U.S. states had no minimum age under which a child could not be married,” said Casey Carter Swegman, Director of Public Policy at Tahirih Justice Center. “While our work will not be done until all states end child marriage completely, this is a heartening step and a hard-fought win that deserves recognition.”
We celebrate the local advocates in Wyoming who helped lead this effort and extend our gratitude to the legislators who championed this bill and consistently supported efforts to address child marriage in the state.
This legislation is a step in the right direction, but we know that one child married is too many. We urge Wyoming to revisit the issue and end child marriage altogether in a future session.
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The Tahirih Justice Center is a national, nonprofit organization that serves immigrant survivors of gender-based violence. By amplifying the experiences of survivors in communities, courts, and Congress, Tahirih’s mission is to create a world in which all people share equal rights and live in safety and with dignity.